Ukraine to request NATO membership

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk. Kyiv, April 2014. [US Embassy, Ukraine]

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk said today (29 August) that his government will introduce a proposal in Parliament to change the non-aligned status of the country, and to request membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO).

The proposal is also aimed at banning Ukraine’s membership in other political organisations than the European Union, putting an end to speculation about joining the Russia-led Customs Union, and the Eurasian Union, Russian President’s Vladimir Putin’s geopolitical project.

According to the Ukrainian press, the Parliament would debate the government’s proposal on 2 September.

The reaction of NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to Yatsenyuk’s statement was fast. He said that he respected Ukraine’s decision and that each country had the right to take decisions regarding its security policies. If Ukraine fulfills the criteria for becoming a NATO member, and if it abolishes its non-aligned status, it has the chance to join the alliance, he said.

Game changer

Ukraine’s non-aligned status has long been considered as the best option, given the security concerns of Russia. But the escalating situation in Ukraine appears to be a game changer.

In Ukraine itself, the number of supporters of NATO membership has dramatically increased over recent months and in July, for the first time, has exceeded the number of those opposed to joining the pact.

Rasmussen also said that Russian forces were engaged in direct military operations inside Ukraine in a blatant violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

"Despite Moscow's hollow denials, it is now clear that Russian troops and equipment have illegally crossed the border into eastern and southeastern Ukraine," Rasmussen told reporters after NATO ambassadors held an emergency meeting with their Ukrainian counterpart at Kyiv's request.

"This is not an isolated action, but part of a dangerous pattern over many months to destabilise Ukraine as a sovereign nation," he added, as quoted by Reuters.

"Russian forces are engaged in direct military operations inside Ukraine [...] Russia continues to maintain thousands of combat-ready troops close to Ukraine's borders. This is a blatant violation of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. It defies all diplomatic efforts for a peaceful solution," he said.

EU hesitates

EU diplomats said today that they needed “clear-cut confirmation what the actual situation in Ukraine is”, referring to the claims that Russia had started an outright invasion, before EU leaders could decide to task the Commission to propose further sanctions.

The ball is largely in the camp of Catherine Ashton’s External Action Service, which should provide such confirmation.

According to information obtained by EurActiv, a presentation by Ashton’s number two, French diplomat Pierre Vimont, to EU ambassadors yesterday, was “inconclusive”.

The Commission should produce an assessment of the impact EU sanctions have had on Russia and on the member countries, before further sanctions are decided, some EU countries claim.

Asked when the Commission will produce such an assessment, Ashton’s spokesperson Maja Kocijancic said the assessment was “ongoing”.

Diplomats also said that the informal ‘Gymnich-type’ meeting of EU foreign ministers in Milan, which takes place today, could clarify the situation around Ukraine.

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Eurochild's picture

Why would Russia invade full force? Ukraine is a sovereign, independent state. The Ukrainians should decide on their future, not Russia.

Yet, here we see the results of Putin's imperialist ambitions: in seeking to control Ukraine all he has achieved is to drive Ukraine into Nato's arms!

Well done Putin, you have managed to reactivate Nato, have eastern European countries seek extra Nato protection, have non-aligned countries such as Sweden and Finland request closer cooperation with Nato and made the Ukrainians seriously consider joining Nato!

skyscraper007's picture

Yes Eurochild, is so true but Ukraines prior destablizied condition created by Russian (Putins) implants kept Ukraine from joining NATO long ago. Besides signing accords with the Euro Union they should hav at same time applied earlier membership to better be able to dfend their country from Putins tactics that has caused a lot of lost lives. If one spends time in both countries one can see and feel that the average citizen is warm hearted and peace seeking , its the leaderships that distort the political truths. Putin won't be happy till he is able to absorb and take back all of Ukraine eveident by his cowardly tactics to date. Is nothing more cowardly than picking on a weaker opponent physically not to mention causing loss of innocent lives to pursue some fanatical desire to dominate the world. Russia talks about defending itself but who in their right mind would even think of confronting offensively Russia??? Recent truths that have existed for a long time is that Russian leadership is living back in the 40's and 50's trying to bring back the days of the Soviet Union but how remarkable is this memory when Russia collapsed in 1990 due to their thinking & beliefs, now instead of learning from their mistakes they resort to continuing their old dialogues that don't fit with todays time.

skyscraper007's picture

First off Jay, the Ukraine region was annexed by Russian Leadership in 1954. Ukrainian & Russians have lived together since for some 60 years with Ukrainine being implanted with Putins Puppets . In the most recent past the Ukrainians never had their own representation but led by the nose with corrupt implants, Yanukovitch being the most recent but typical of the others also. Yanukovitch at behest of his people was going to sign the European Union accord until Putin applied his cohersion with 15 billion dollar bribe so that Yank & his kronie culprets could pocket even more graft. The main reason Putin has been able to do what he has is because Ukraine was weakened by the prior puppets, drained of assets and military might making them vulnerable to take-over by Putins desire to reabsorb the Ukraine. How noble is it to ignore another countrys right to independence ?? If those in Ukraine want to be controlled by Russia then they should pack-up & move to within Russian boundries not resot to Putins sabotage tactics to encourage destabilization and losss of innocent lives. If Ukraine was a member of NATO I doubt Putin would be getting away with all he has. Furthermore trying to be diplomatic with mercenaries is stupid for war mongors thrive on absolent acts. Its cowardly to hide behind obvious subversive acts claiming the separtists are independent of Putins support just like they were in Crimea right?? Putin has been walking the fine line ever since his first ploys using Russias resources to intimidate quiesece of opinion figuring knowone would challenge him for economic reasons but this is an ideological conflict and Putins strength lies in using force not diplomacy to take back regions that do not belong to him. Sould the USA be able to enter in Ukraines defense I doubt Putin would be able to continue.

Jay's picture

Please spare me your BS, my wife is Ukrainian, I know Ukraine history front and back, I also know how the oligarchs manipulate the people, both Russian and Ukrainian. Most Americans know WHO NATO is and it's NOT European!